Shadowing a DoctorJanuary 10, 2012
Biomedical Sciences is definitely a very viable route into studying Medicine.
What? You want more? There I was thinking that I was going to be able to be taking an early lunch today…
OK then. Well I think the reason I have been asked to write this piece is because there is often a fair amount of confusion surrounding the value of spending 3 or 4 years studying a Biomedicine-related course, when all you really want to do is get into Medicine at the end of it. This is understandable in itself – who would want to add what appear to be unnecessary years to what is already a lengthy training process? But it seems like this uncertainty is often exacerbated by the rumours which always seem to start flying around at this time of year – as people begin to question whether medical schools actually accept applications from graduates of the Biomedical Sciences.
The answer to this is: they very definitely do. Of course, it is probably not in the interests of the people running Biomedical Science courses to admit this – nobody wants to train people to do a job they aren’t going to do, and it is not certainly not in the future interests of this industry if it begins to be seen by huge numbers of people as merely a route into another area. But the widening of access to medical education in recent years has certainly seen a concomitant (check out my use of the word concomitant – this “synonyms” button is a god-send!) rise in Biomedical graduates in schools around the UK.
There are many medical-related positives to studying a Biomedical sciences degree. For starters you may be able to get on to one of the 4 year graduate entry Medicine courses at the end of it, enabling you to claw back at least one of these “lost” years. It should be pointed out all this juncture that competition for these places is extremely high, and you only get 4 choices on your UCAS form, irrespective of whether you are applying to 4 or 5 year medical courses. Year after year we see very good candidates missing out on receiving an offer purely because they risked everything on getting on to a 4 year course. In short – do not put all your eggs into one graduate entry-shaped basket. Even if you are thinking you cannot afford to do the extra year; the one thing people don’t consider is that your holiday time is greatly reduced on the 4 year courses and you could be using this time to earn the money to support you for those extra 12 months!
Of course, pursuing an alternative degree might be your only option – if you don’t have the grades to get offered a place at medical school outright. If this is the case then Biomedical Science is a fantastic idea, as it is the one degree which gives you the widest number of options at the end of it. This is because a number of universities only accept specific, related degrees from graduate applicants, such as Biomed or, possibly, health-related courses like nursing or physiotherapy. In addition to this, Biomedical Sciences will give you the edge if you are applying to one of the handful of universities which require you to sit the GAMSAT test, as this requires a degree of scientific background knowledge.
And a further potential positive of entering on to a Biomedical Sciences course is that there may be the slightest chance that you will be able to transfer to a medical course while you are on it. Details concerning this are incredibly sketchy, but there are always stories of opportunistic or top performing students receiving the option of switching to medicine (although where, and even how true these stories are I really couldn’t say!).
Of course there is always the possibility that you might decide that Biomedicine can actually provide you with a career path you are happy to follow. There are plenty of different options available to graduates – in the NHS or private healthcare, pharmaceuticals, public health and even forensics. Plus there are lots of travel opportunities in all of these areas which means there is plenty of room to manoeuvre, should you choose to turn your back on medicine, in the years to come!
So I would suggest that Biomedical Sciences can be the right choice for all manner of different reasons, but, of course, it is up to you to fully consider all the options before making your final decision…
Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.